Pumpkin Pesto with Cilantro

vegan cilantro pesto

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Pesto is one of those things that I can put on pretty much anything {like hot sauce}… and I do. Serve it drizzled over roasted fall vegetables, with your favorite protein (like crispy salmon!), or whole grains. It’s even delicious on a baked potato or toast, and I’ve been known to add it to eggs before scrambling. You may be thinking of just pasta, so hopefully this has opened your eyes to the possibilities. This vegan pumpkin pesto will add flavor to any meal!

Cilantro Pumpkin Pesto?

Since I’m sure some of you are getting hung up on “cilantro” and “pumpkin” being in a pesto recipe, let’s address that. “Pesto” may be traditionally made with garlic, pine nuts and basil, but it generically means anything made by pounding or crushing. Like me, most of you don’t have the time to make your pesto with a mortar and pestle, so another variation here is using a food processor. If you have time for the hand crushing, go for it!

pumpkin pesto sauce

Vegan Pumpkin Pesto Ingredients

I have a few pesto recipes up already, but after trying a pumpkin pesto with a dish at True Food Kitchen and seeing it on the menu at Harvest a few years ago, I had to give it a go on my own. When browsing for inspiration, I was surprised that I didn’t find any using pumpkin purée – just the seeds. So, between the cilantro, pumpkin purée, and hemp seeds, we have quite a unique and delicious sauce on our hands!

Hemp hearts are one of my favorite ingredients. They can add great texture to anything (pancakes, oats, salads, veggies, pizza, you name it), but also provide a good boost of healthy fats, protein, fiber, and iron. Great as an anti-inflammatory boost for intense exercisers. Plus, the use of hemp in this pumpkin pesto recipe makes it nut free, so those with tree nut allergies can enjoy it too!

What’s your favorite use for pesto or how would you use this one?

vegan cilantro pesto

Vegan Pumpkin Pesto with Cilantro

This vegan cilantro pesto made with pumpkin purée and hemp seeds is a unique and delicious sauce that adds flavor to any meal!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American


  • 2 cups cilantro end of stems removed
  • 1/3 cup hemp hearts
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 + 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2-4 tbsp hemp or avocado oil
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice


  •  Add all ingredients to a food processor or high quality blender. *
  • Pulse until mixture is well incorporated and creamy, around 45-60 seconds.
  • Serve as a sauce, dip, or use as a marinade. Can be stored in the refrigerator up to one week.
Keyword pumpkin pesto sauce, vegan cilantro pesto
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

*Note: this recipe was successful in both my 4 cup and 10 cup Cuisinart food processors. I have not yet tried it in my Vitamix or bullet blender. If making in a new large Vitamix container, I recommend doubling the recipe based on feedback on other pesto recipes. Please comment on success with different food processors and blenders!

pumpkin pesto vegan nut free

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